This is another one of those stories I just couldn’t get to before my early August business trip, but Register reporter Martin Wisckol contacted me for a comment on the Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners recent event in Dana Point that was designed to show how the private sector could help the poor. Yes, they could start by raising everyone’s pay, but it’s the Koch Brothers and any discussion about helping the poor is lip service.
from the story: The move toward transparency, intended to better market the group’s message to the masses, includes the public unveiling earlier this year of an $889 million budget for this election cycle. That includes money for programs that are not overtly political, such as a grassroots Latino outreach program that provides driving lessons and tax preparation services.
The title of the weekend’s event is “Unleashing A Free Society: Expanding Opportunity for All Americans,” and a press release emphasized that this would focus on “especially the least fortunate.”
The lineup of speakers reveals the group’s early favorites to carry the free-market torch in next year’s presidential election: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio. Rand Paul, whose campaign said he was unable to accept the invitation because of scheduling conflicts, spoke at an earlier Koch event.
Martin asked my opinion and I gave him a quote. You can read the story here.
A rebuttal to my comments came from OC GOP Chair Fred Whittaker of Orange. And in his statement, a demonstrable admission that the GOP still doesn’t get it when it comes to Healthcare reform.
Whitaker told the Register: “(The Kochs) say social good can be achieved through private action more than government action,” Whitaker said. “I don’t think Obamacare helps the poor in the least – it would be more affordable for them to just run into the emergency room the way they used to.”.
Ah, no it wouldn’t.
Emergency room healthcare is the most expensive you can get. Without insurance, poor families often avoid preventative measures about their health and seek emergency treatment when the doctor is the last and best option. This is what you can come to expect from the Party that continues to vote to repeal Obamacare time after time.
Initially, emergency room visits went up under ACA. But what Whitaker should know is that under ACA, ER medical bills that used to go unpaid are now being covered. From CBS: Last year, about one-fourth of the nearly 65,000 patients treated in the ER at Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, N.C., were uninsured, costing the hospital over $7 million in unpaid bills.
“It’s just considered business as usual,” Amy Sousa, who works at the hospital, told CBS affiliate WNCT. “It’s how we operate.”
But a new study by researchers at Stanford University suggests that fewer people ages 19 to 25 are using ERs due to a provision in the ACA that allows those young adults to retain coverage under their parent’s health insurance plans.
The study looked at data from state hospital records in Florida, California and New York, before and after the law was implemented. And it found that the 19-25 age group had a decrease of 2.7 ER visits per 1,000 people, or a relative change of minus 2.1 percent, under ACA.
“Our results suggest that the ACA’s dependent coverage provision is associated with a relative decrease in the number of ED (emergency department) visits for young adults,” the study concludes.
An analysis of California state records by the Los Angeles Times also shows the number of ER visits at public hospitals in Los Angeles County — the nation’s most densely populated — slowed down during the first three months of expanded medical coverage under the ACA.
What’s more, new studies published in the progressive Mother Jones magazine, demonstrate ACA is a blessing for the working poor, giving them better health insurance and more income in their households. From the story:
“…a study by Brookings economists Henry Aaron and Gary Burtless, one that starkly illustrates whom the ACA spends money on via premium subsidies and Medicaid benefits. It’s the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution.
Recent ACA enrollment data bears this out. Of the 11.7 million buyers of private health plans on the ACA exchanges, over 60 percent have incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The 11 million beneficiaries of the Medicaid expansion all have incomes under 138 percent FPL. Taken together, those numbers mean about 80 percent of the law’s direct beneficiaries have incomes below 200 percent FPL.
Sliced another way, about half (48 percent) of private plan buyers in the 37 states using healthcare.gov had incomes ranging from 150 to 300 percent FPL, a more or less working class range. But more than half of those were at the lower end, 150 to 200 percent FPL.
The truth is, the ACA private plan market works best for people with incomes under 200 percent FPL. That’s the cutoff point for the beefy if little-known cost-sharing subsidies that reduce deductibles and copays and make the coverage comparable to (or, for those under 150 percent FPL, better than) that offered by high-quality employer-sponsored policies. A recent study by Avalere Health showed that people with lower-incomes who qualify for such subsidies are snatching up private plans from ACA exchanges—but uninsured buyers at higher income levels haven’t been nearly as enthusiastic. It would be great if more generous subsidies could make the exchange plans more attractive to those relatively better-off Americans on the upper end of the scale, but Democrats allocated what the political traffic would bear.”
The OC GOP chair simply mimics the national party when it comes to Healthcare Reform, but by encouraging the working poor to continue using ERs for healthcare simply demonstrates the Republicans have no plan for healthcare reform. And its a shame really, because with a little homework, Mr. Whitaker might be shocked to discover that the genesis of today’s ACA started with Orange County’s own Richard Nixon until Watergate got in the way of meaningful domestic reforms. The idea was championed by the conservative Heritage Foundatin as a response to Hillarycare and was later adopted by former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney before becoming the basis of Obamacare.